With their blue-trimmed white saris, the sisters are a discreet but distinctive presence on the streets at night, offering solace to the destitute and, when possible, a place to stay.
But these sisters with the Missionaries of Charity, the religious congregation founded by Mother Teresa, who is to be declared a saint by Pope Francis on Sunday, are not assisting the poor of Kolkata, India, where the order began in 1950. They are tending to the indigent and abandoned in Rome.
“Mother used to call it a drop in the ocean, but without that drop, it would not be the same,”
Sister Mary Prema Pierick, the superior general of the congregation, said in an interview in a former chicken coop turned into spare living quarters for some of the sisters in Rome.
Active in 139 countries, the sisters and the affiliated brothers and fathers that form what is known as the Missionaries of Charity family are continuing the work begun by Mother Teresa nearly 70 years ago, caring for those she called “the poorest of the poor.” Regardless of where the poor might be.
In the 19 years since Mother Teresa died, her legacy has continued to grow, drawing men and women to the congregation, which now numbers more than 5,800 around the world.